Sunday, January 31, 2010

Immortal? You Betcha!

Immortality is such an intriguing notion: Living Forever and Ever and Ever. It's a characteristic you'll find in many myths and legends, whether a mythological god/goddess, vampire, faerie or other creature who never dies. It's a theme that shows up in a plethora of literature, whether ancient, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, or modern, like Alyson Noel's best selling YA series, The Immortals.

It's also something that a certain animal has accomplished, a creature we can see with our own eyes and is the subject of many excited scientists' studies. Meet Turritopsis nutricula, an amazing little (5 mm) jellyfish. It hails from the Caribbean but scientists predict it will someday inhabit every ocean. What's so fascinating about this little guy is while most jellyfish die after propagating, Turritopsis nutricula goes back to a polyp stage.

So it grows to maturation, propagates, and then turns back into a juvenile! This isn't to say that they never die; but they don't need to die and therefore have the potential to be immortal.

Cool, huh? Until they take over the world, that is! :)

Have you made or stumbled upon a recent scientific discovery that many of us might not know about? If so, please share!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Celebrity doppelgängers?

Who really has them? Not me!

Some people think I look like this Indian actress:

I *want* to look like Sophia Loren, but I do not at all.

But unfortunately, I'm just plain ole Dona.

How many of you out there resemble a famous person? I would love to hear some answers because doppelganger week on Facebook has been a bust for me so far
Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 29, 2010

School em or hate em?

While all of you are probably rushing out to see the lastest flick this weekend, I'll be making a house for a groundhog. Yes, you read that right. My first grader has to use a shoebox and decorate it as a room in a groundhog house. He is over the moon excited. Me, not so much.
(Attn: PETA, the house is for a cardboard groundhog not a real one so please don't freak out on me)
It's not that I don't adore doing crafty things with him because I totally do. It's the fact that the houses are going to be judged for first, second, and third place. While this probably wouldn't be a problem for a normal person...I'm kind of psychotic when it comes to competition. Especially when it involves my kids. It's not that I really care if they win, it's that I don't want them to feel bad if they don't. And yes, I know, losing builds character, blah...blah..blah. But I'm good with them not getting any extra character until they are about ten.
The hardest part of all is the fine line between helping them with the project and "doing" the project. You always have the parent who constructs a project with motorized parts and looks like it took an engineering degree, which is beyond annoying when I've spent a day trying to figure out how to make a couple of cotton balls look like a couch.

My son hasn't decided if he wants a game room, a workout room, or a library (you can guess which one I'm pulling for), but whatever he decides we'll do our best and have fun!

Did you have a project in school that your parents "helped" you with a little too much?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Books... to club or not to club?

It's becoming even easier to be in a book club. They seem to be cropping up all over the country in neighborhoods, libraries, and of course, bookstores. Today I heard about a new site that not only sells books in e-formats, but allows you to form a book club with other readers of the book across the country. A virtual book club. How cool is that?

It's called

I think that would be cool to be in a book club - even if it was virtual and you met online instead of in someone's cozy house with cookies or other yummies. Or maybe not - is part of the charm of a book club that you meet, eat, discuss, argue, and enjoy books in person? What does the face-to-face interaction add to a book club.

I've never been in a book club; in fact -- the closest experience I've had to a book club is enjoying reading about one in Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti, where the heroine visits her mother's book group, The "Casserole Queens." The readers form a bond, go on an adventure, change a life - all in a subplot of the book.

What do you guys think? Have you been in a book club? Would you join one online?

The Clearing - HMH April 2010
Never Cry Werewolf - Harperteen Sept 2009

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A writer (and cat lover's) paradise...

I'm in Key West, Florida this week on a scouting mission for a possible event and I'm also going to be speaking tonight (Wednesday) night, January 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Monroe County Public Library.

Yesterday, after an authentic Cheeseburger in Paradise at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville...

...where I *did* find my lost shaker of salt...

...we took a stroll down Duval Street and cut over to Whitehead Street to the Ernest Hemingway house.

Now, this place isn't just the former residence of one of America's greatest writers, but it's also home to forty-three polydactyl kitty cats who call the grounds of the museum home.

As you can see here, Miss Marlene Dietrech apparently can't read the "Do Not Sit on Furniture" sign. LOL!!

What was soooooo amazing about this place wasn't just that Hemingway loved his six-toed cats that are the fur-fathers of the cats at the museum today, but this was his haven and writing place for several many of his masterpieces. In fact, in the house, they have first edition copies of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT to name a few. Check it out...

As a writer, I was blown away by my surroundings and seeing Hemingway's writing studio with his pencils and typewriter. I can certainly understand how the man was inspired living there.

And, of course, in Hemingway's bedroom, on the very pillow he used to sleep on, now rests Archibald Leach (the orange kitty) and Miss Francis (a seven-toed girl). It's a hard life, but someone has to do it, right?

So...I'm wondering...if in 40-50 years...will my apartment be on a tour? Will other Buzz Girls' houses be featured with their writing rooms and pictures of their pets? Who knows...but I'd love to go on those tours! LOL!!

Marley = )

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You've Got a What?!?

Yesterday my mom and I went to PetsMart to return something. While we were waiting in line we watched most of the staff gathered around a guy and his son. We didn't think much of it until we looked down and saw ... a skunk!

I don't know if I'd want a skunk for a pet, but he was very beautiful and very sweet. He was even playing with a doggie chew toy.

I've never had anything more interesting than a hamster. Have you ever had en exotic pet?


OH. MY. GODS. and GODDESS BOOT CAMP (out now!)
FORGIVE MY FINS (coming June 1st!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

After The Storms...

Anyone paying attention to U.S. news last week probably knows that California suffered some wild weather! Record rainfall, tornadoes, thunder, lightning, mudslides, name it.

As a resident of a Station Fire burn area, I had started making preparations for evacuation last weekend, and my last blog post included news of that, as well my concern for how I was going to care for the feral cat who lives in our yard, a fluffy, matted cat that I call Ivy.

Monday brought torrential rains, and the tent I'd made for Ivy soon flooded. Tuesday's rains were lighter and more scattered, but my second attempt at a safe haven for her bombed out, too. Then, with our biggest storms approaching, the evacuation calls came in, saying we had approximately 12 hours to get out. My brain racing, I suddenly had A Bright Idea on how to help poor, wet, shivering Ivy.

The last thing I did, after filling the car with our treasured possessions and my two cats, was to go back in the house and open the cat door. Immediately inside I put a dispenser of dry food (enough to last about 5 days) and a blanket. And I left...

We were able to return on Friday afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was about 75% of Ivy's food gone, and some tufts of her thick fur on the lineoleum and blanket. So I think I effectively solved the What To Do With Ivy? problem--at least during evacuations.

As far as the hillsides, thanks to the dilligent efforts of our city workers, there were no flash floods or mudslides. No damage at all. And thanks to the freezing temperatures, the last of the rain turned to snow, giving us a gorgeous gift Saturday morning gift. (And remember, this is Los Angeles!)

This week's forecast calls for some more rain, but we're optimistic that we're going to "weather it out" in our homes. Meanwhile, Ivy's strutting around, dry and full, and about as happy as I've ever seen her.


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's More Than a Movie; It's an Experience!

I don't get to go out and see movies very often, so when I do, it's a very exciting event. And I like to choose movies I think (or have heard) are best experienced in a theater versus DVD at home a few months later. You know, like action flicks (The Bourne Ultimatum, Inglorius Basterds) or those with killer special effects. Or, from time to time, when I just can't wait for it to come out on DVD (Juno). Well, last week I saw a movie that was so much more than a movie. It was an experience. You might already know I'm talking about James Cameron's cinematic masterpiece, Avatar.

Interestingly, I hadn't really heard much word-of-mouth feedback from this particular movie. Just some basic praise like "cool" and "really creative" plus a lukewarm"Well, the special effects were good but the story itself was kinda lame." However, from the moment I put on my stylin' 3D glasses and scooted down the crowded row with my husband and 2 oldest sons in tow, I could tell I was in for a treat.
This little flick cost more to make than any other movie to date, several hundred million bucks. Apparently, the $500 million price tag you might have heard about is a tad inflated; but rest assured, it cost a pretty penny. James Cameron (who now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) came up with the idea for this movie about 15 years ago and had to wait until technology and resources could catch up with the magnitude of his vision. Then, the movie took over 4 years to produce.
The quality of the film--including the sound effects, music, special effects, acting, and writing--is spell-binding. It's an epic adventure, a love story, a character study, a spiritual journey, and a war--all happening in the fiercely spectacular world of Pandora. It was the most exciting and fun three hours and $8 I've spent in a very long time. I truly felt a part of the movie, and it took me a good fifteen minutes after the credits rolled to catch my breath. Literally.
Avatar is one of my favorite movies EVER! But I also have a special place in my heart for independent films; you know, the ones that might not have $500 million behind them? And that's why I'm so excited that the Sundance Film Festival is going strong here in Utah. On Wednesday night I get to go see happythankyoumoreplease in Ogden. I can't wait!

What are some movies you recommend seeing on the big screen? Have you seen Avatar yet? Are you more of a big blockbuster movie type, or do you prefer indies?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So long, Coco...

Unless you reside in a cave somewhere (so I guess you wouldn't be reading this anyway), you've heard all about the big Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien debacle on NBC. In case you haven't heard, it's finally over, and Conan will be hosting The Tonite Show for the last time tonight. I can't lie and claim to be a huge Conan fan. It wasn't that I didn't like him, I just didn't think he was THAT funny. Not that Jay Leno is that funny either, but for some reason I preferred him. I still watched The Tonight Show but most nights I would watch Jay's show first.
Even though I didn't think Conan was the funniest guy in the world, I had so much respect for him when he refused to move The Tonight Show to a later time slot (hopefully his agent will get his next show's time slot in writing to avoid all this mess). And while you can't really feel too bad for a guy who gets like a bazillion dollars just to quit working for a few months, I really hope he lands on his feet. And I can't help but wonder if NBC made a huge mistake. Will people even tune in for The Tonight Show when Jay returns as the host in a few weeks or will they feel like NBC betrayed them and turn to Letterman?

Who were you rooting for as the host of The Tonight Show?



Is It Spring Yet?

It’s not even the end of January, and I’m already craving spring. It’s raining all the time, of course – and down in California, the rain is really, really bad for peeps like Tina, living up in the fire-scarred hills. Hugs to Tina! I’m so sorry your family is dealing with this flooding again. Sending you love…

Up here in the Northwest, it’s just steady, dripping, depressing rain. That does mean snow in the mountains, so people who ski and snowboard have a completely different take on the whole weather thing than I do.

It is a perfect time to read though. The rain, dark evenings, fireplaces, hot tea or coffee brewing nearby, make me want to get to some of the really fun books in my to-be-read pile. Of course, I’m in the middle of judging a contest, so I’m ready contest entries instead of books.

I did start Carlos is Gonna Get it by Kevin Emerson a week or so ago and I can’t wait to get back to it. I’m halfway through and it’s really, really good. I’m using it like dessert now – a chapter for reward when I’ve finished my contest reading.

How about you? I’d love to see what everyone’s reading during this dreary end of winter. Please post in comments what you’re reading!

Who knows, maybe you’ll lead us to a new gem to pick up at the bookstore or library…


The Clearing – April 2010 HMH
Never Cry Werewolf – Sept 2009 HarperTeen

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You Hulu?

TV viewing has gone through a lot of changes since I graduated from high school. First there were TV shows on DVD (totally unheard of the early 90s), followed quickly by NetFlix home delivery. Then there were DVRs which, to be honest, I totally did not get at first. Now I can't imaging not being able to record something while I'm away or to pause if I have to run get my dog off the fence (it happens).

When I was in grad school at Tufts, with no TV in my room, I was grateful for iTunes and their supply of Survivor episodes. (They save me from a lot of winter- and study-induced insanity.)

But now there is something new. Something better. Something totally free. Hulu!

Basically Hulu is a website were networks can stream there clips, interviews, and complete episodes. They don't always include all the episodes from every season, but some are better than none, right? Some popular new shows are there (like Psych, Dollhouse, and Glee) as well as some classic faves (like Inspector Gadget, Three Moons Over Milford, and Buffy). Just click and view. So easy.

What about you? Do you Hulu?


Oh. My. Gods. and Goddess Boot Camp (out now!)
Forgive My Fins (coming June 1, 2010)

Monday, January 18, 2010

What to Do With Ivy?

Rain is coming to Los Angeles. We're hearing four storms, back-to-back.

And for those of us in the foothills that were so devastatingly burned by the Station Fire last August/September, this could mean mudslides, flash flooding--and evacuation.

But as I've raced about these past couple of days, trying to make contigency plans for my family and pets, what comes to mind once again is: What to do with Ivy?

Ivy is the feral cat who lives in our yard. She showed up about two summers ago to sneak in our cat door and eat the remains of our cats' meals. She's a pretty, long-haired cat (okay, kind of mangy, but she could be pretty) and some neighbors think she was abandonded by a family whose house was repossessed. Some think she was born feral. Some think SHE is a HE. We may never know because she won't let any humans near her. Not even me...the cat whisperer who feeds her twice a day!

Here is a rare photo of Ivy, and while I realize she looks like she only has one functioning eye, I promise, her eyes are just fine. And this was as close as we could get with the camera before she took off...

I always feel so badly for her when it's cold. And especially when it rains. Her feral instincts prevent her from seeking shelter or trying anything "new." What I have finally decided is to try an open tent: a tarp over a piece of patio furniture, loosely covering an elevated box, a blanket and a lot of dry food. And hope for the best!

And then I wonder if I'm trying too hard. She's essentially a wild animal. And it's not like I'm making shelters for the squirrels and birds, too!

Anyway, as much as I normally love rain, these storms sound intense. Wish us the best and I'll give you an update on how we did--and how Ivy fared--next Monday!


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's been a great weekend to live in Northern Utah. The Dew Tour is here at Snowbasin Mountain Resort (where the 2002 Winter Olympics took place). So we gathered our family and friends and headed there, excited to see some of the best skiers and boarders in the world do their stuff. (That's me in the reddish coat, standing in front of the half-pipe they built especially for the event.)

We found a little nook behind a radio station's tent, laid out some pads, and enjoyed a little winter picnic while watching all the action. Here I am with my good friend Yira, who's from Spain. She was excited because one of the snowboarders, Queralt Castellet, is from Spain. At one point, Yira asked me if I could do that, meaning the snowboard superpipe. I was flattered that she'd even ask, but um, no. No. No. (I wish, though!) Apparently, 14,000 fans came out to root for the women's snowboard superpipe.

In addition to the action on the hill, the city of Ogden threw parties for all the locals and Dew Tour enthusiasts, including a FREE concert to see Dashboard Confessional! (For those of you who've read The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, you might remember that when Roxy is at the modeling agency, Dashboard Confessional is the music being played.) Local musician Codi Jordan did a great job opening for them, but then it started getting really cold and one of my boys felt sick so we had to leave before they even started. Sigh.

So anyway, that's the Buzz around here! And I'd like to take a moment to say that while I feel very blessed to live where I do, my heart goes out to those in Haiti. Also, our very own Buzz Girl Tina might have to leave her home because of a storm predicted to hit S. California. I wish them all the very best.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Powell's Bookstore!

I first want to say this morning that I'm incredibly saddened by the tragedy in Haiti. Please keep the people who are dealing with so much devestation in your prayers and if you are able, donate to one of the many charities in motion to help with relief... When things like this happen, it's important to do what you can for those who are hurting and remember to hug the ones you love.

In much lighter news, my post today is about one of the world's great bookstores --

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time in Portland, Oregon, home of one of the country’s great book destinations – Powell’s Books. It’s a humongous store, chock full of so many volumes, there is a giant board to direct you to the right room of the store. People plan their trips to Portland around this amazing store – so it’s a good thing there are some great hotels nearby.

I loved walking around the store. There’s such amazing energy at Powell’s – you’re surrounded by people who love books as much as you do probably, and the walls are covered with shelves – rows and rows of stories you’ve yet to discover.

In the teen section, I found Buzz Girl books – and mine, though it was on a high shelf, was faced out! The bookseller, Florence, was very sweet and let me sign the copies for the store. Me, signing books at Powell’s?
It’s still unreal and I can’t believe that this dream of mine to become a writer has come true. I truly have a “pinch me” moment when I see Shelby staring out from the cover of Never Cry Werewolf. And seeing her there at Powell’s reminded me how grateful I am for young adult readers and my writing friends that have help bring my dream to life!

I know I’ve talked about Indie Bookstores before, but I’m curious if there are any other big bookstores like Powell’s around the country? Do you have a destination bookstore in your hometown? I think I may need to plan some more book field trips…


The Clearing – April 2010 HMH
Never Cry Werewolf – Sept. 2009 HarperTeen

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Proud of my Alma Mater!

If you went to a "football school," you know how important January 7th was to me and my Crimson Tide from The University of Alabama! My boys soundly defeated the #2 Texas Longhorns in the BCS Title Game to win their THIRTEENTH national championship.

I waited seventeen years for this and I'm sooooooooo proud of the class, sportsmanship, and blood, sweat, and tears that my team exemplified all season.


Do you love college football? Is there a team you're rampant for? Leave your comment and let us know.

Marley = )

P.S. Check out my blog for a cool contest to win an advanced copy of GHOST HUNTRESS: THE REASON out in May!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Location

Tina's post yesterday about the fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas (and the pic from a fave movie of mine) inspired me to think about other favorite movies shot at iconic locations. Here are some, in no particular order.

image from
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lampur (Entrapment)

image from
The Empire State Building in New York (Sleepless in Seattle)

image from
Angkor Wat in Cambodia (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider)

image from
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Thomas Crown Affair)

image from
Petra in Jordan (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

So far, the only ones I've visited are those in New York (The Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Museum), but I'd love to see them all.

Are there any movie locations you'd love to visit?


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Fountains at the Bellagio

Some of you know that I’ve been racing around the southwest on family business quite a lot recently, and included in those jaunts have been stays in Las Vegas. Although my budget has never included nights at the Bellagio, I always make a point of dropping by there to watch the fountain shows, where water, music and light come together in awe-inspiring presentations.

Really, I feel like a little kid when I watch them, my eyes wide, my brow up, my mouth either hanging open or forming the word, “Wow.” And while I've yet to see one I didn't like, some of my favorites include LUCK BE A LADY, HEY BIG SPENDER, and YOUR SONG.

How about you? Have you seen the fountains?

And now here’s a photo from a very famous movie that includes footage of the Bellagio fountains.

Who knows the movie?


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winner Announced!

Wow. To quote one of my favorite comediennes (Chelsea Handler), "What a whirlwind!" Last week was so much fun and I'm thankful to all the Buzz Girls for their wonderful features. I bet you all know more about me than you ever wanted to now, ha ha!

Today is a very special day for one of the TV programs I mentioned in the post Heather put together for Thursday. The Simpsons has made it to 20 years! 20 years with the same core people, the same TV network, the same irreverent, silly, quirkiness. "Long before now, endruging life for 'The Simpsons' and its brightly jaundiced folk was simply assumed. What began 20 years ago as a fluke then erupted into a pop-culture juggernaut has continued to spin yarns, spawn characters and lampoon society with no end in sight." -Frazier Moore of the Associated Press. Congratulations to Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.

And here's some more buzz: Ellen DeGeneres will be an American Idol judge this season, which starts Tuesday, Jan. 12. I, for one, am excited because I think it will breathe some new energy into the show, which is one of my (many) guilty pleasures.

Now, without further ado, I will announce the winner of the $10 Borders/Waldenbooks gift card. There were nearly 60 entries! My son wrote the names of each entry onto little pieces of paper and shook a bowl vigorously and drew the paper with ... YA Book Nerd written on it. Woot! Congrat's, YA Book Nerd. If you'd be so kind as to email me at roxyinlights at yahoo . com with your mailing address I'll send it on its merry way. Thank you to everyone who commented! What a treat to get to know each of you a little better. :)

Have a great week, everybody! xoxo

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Can you guess Wendy's favorite....

I am closing out the Welcome to Wendy Week here at Books, Boys, Buzz with a post dedicated to our newest Bee, Wendy Toliver's faves! This has been a whirlwind week of everything Wendy....and what a fantastic week for prizes!

First up, we have Wendy's favorite male celebs....can you guess who they are?

Steve Martin because he's so witty


Lance Armstrong because he doesn't flinch at the impossible!

Some other great choices from Wendy...for example, her favorite female celebs walk that line of being completely gorgeous, but totally approachable (just LIKE Wendy, don' t you think?)

"I always thought Drew Barrymore was adorable (think E.T.) and now she's gorgeous. I like her quirkiness and she seems down-to-earth and friendly. Charlize Theron is another favorite of mine. She's so lovely and talented and I have it on good authority that she's really cool. I also like Fergie because she's so talented and it's almost like she's a part of my family because we listen to her music so often. Here's a tidbit: Growing up, people called me Fergie because my last name was Ferguson. "

Great choices Fergie!

What is Wendy's Favorite Vacation Destination:

"Costa Rica, hands down. It is so beautiful and the terrain is so interesting. My husband and I traveled all over, from the surfing beaches to the rain forests. We stayed in amazing places and ate delicious food. The wildlife is abundant and the people are the loveliest I've seen anywhere else, and so friendly to Americans. I can't wait to go back. "

Wendy's Favorite Movies are Juno and Life is Beautiful
Her Favorite Book is The Importance of Being Earnest
And the most important of all, what is Wendy's favorite way to spend a day?

Yikes! It's hard to narrow it down. Here are a few things I love doing, but of course I wouldn't want to do them all in a single day: snowboarding or wakeboarding, yoga, , traveling in new places....

Going to a fancy gala or costume party...

and of course going on a hot date with her adorable husband

So, those are some of Wendy's favorite things...what are some of yours? Leave a comment for a chance to win the $10 gift card from Borders!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Wonderful World of Wendy

By now you all now that Wendy is the author of two young adult novels with a highly-anticipated third one on the way. But I wanted to delve deeper into Wendy's personal life. I could have asked Wendy all about her fabulously supportive husband or her three adorable little boys, but I thought it would be better to get right to the important stuff. Her pets. Because let's face it, pets say a lot about a person. I asked Wendy to tell us all about the special furry friends she has had in her life.

Steph: Did you have a special pet growing up?

Wendy: I got my first pet when I was in kindergarten (or so) and my little sister and I brought our piggy banks to a neighbor who was selling half Siamese and half Himalayan kittens. We picked out our favorite and named her Lucy Bell. She was beautiful and had a bit of an attitude. The rest of my childhood, we always had a cat. After Lucy came Pumpkin, a ferocious orange tabby, and Max, a yellow tabby we had until I left for college and he died of old age. On and off we had all sorts of animals in the house, including hedgehogs, hamsters, fish, snakes, and various insects (including a vinegaroon, which totally grossed me out).
(This thing would look awesome on the bottom of my shoe. Kidding, kidding, kind of. )

When I got married, we about a year before getting a pet. Her name was Moxie, and I chose her because, like my first cat, she had Siamese in her. She was a wonderful cat with the cutest toes ever and we recently lost her to old age.
(I can't see Moxie's toes but Wendy's look pretty cute! RIP~Moxie)

We also have two dogs, one is a yellow lab named Danner and the other is a mutt (looks like the offspring of a German shepherd and a fox) named Willow. They're outside dogs and though Willow isn't a hunting dog, we can't leave her behind or they'll both cry the entire time they're separated. (photo #3 and #5 attached) The newest member of our family is a gray tabby kitten named Zoey Sapphire. We found her (or she found us) when we were on a walk last August. Zoey hung out with Moxie and brought a fresh breath of air the few months before Moxie died. (photo #4) In addition to cats and dogs, we have an aquarium full of fresh water fish, sometimes crabs and snakes, and up until a month ago had a salamander named Spike. Speaking of salamanders, my sons hit the mother load of salamanders this summer, and one day I came upstairs to see 17 of them crawling over the carpet in a salamander race. (I've also found earthworms in my silverware drawer--just one of the many perks of being a boy-mom.)
(Steph: Um, yikes. Luckily the Hale boys don't read so well yet so they can't get any ideas!)
(Danner is quite possibly the cutest dog I have ever seen. I may need to roadtrip to UT to steal him!)

(Zoey Sapphire enjoying her new humans!)

Steph: Do you take as much time picking your pets names as you do your characters?

Wendy: Like for my characters, I do put a lot of thought into the names for my pets. I got to choose Moxie, Willow, and Zoey's names. I think my main characters' names so far (Roxy, Sasha, and Poppy) are pretty similar to the ones I've chosen for my pets, which is kind of interesting but I'm not really sure why. I like pet names that are people names (as opposed to Blackie, Rover, or Whiskers) but not popular ones (like Dan, which is what Danner's former owner named him). I like names that are fun to say and match the personalities of my pets.
Steph: Do pets ever play an important role in your books?

Wendy: I do like to include pets in my books, but only if the pet is a character and not just an empty detail. In my first book, The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, the Zimmermans have a dog who ends up being under Roxy's siren powers, which brings about some pretty funny scenes. In Lifted, Poppy's friend Mary Jane Portman has a yippy, spoiled, yet oftentimes ignored dog, which gives the reader a look into the Portman's lifestyle. I think you can tell a lot about a person or a family by the pets they chose (or which pets chose them), what the pets are named, and how involved they are with their pet(s).

Now you know everything about Wendy's pet history. Leave a comment about your special pet for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Borders.

And the winner of my Favorite things contest last week is:

Megan Petty
Please send your snail mail address to stephanie at

Thanks for a great interview, Wendy!


Our New Bee Wendy's High School Memories!

Happy Thursday!

A little housekeeping before we get into our daily celebration of Wendy Tolliver, our new bee – the winner of last week’s Favorite Things giveaway – is HEATHER M. Please email me at heather(at) with your mailing address so I can send you delicious chocolate-orange fondue, gummy bears, and a signed copy of my book, Never Cry Werewolf.

And now – without further ado, I’m so very lucky to get to interview our brand-spanking-new Bee, Wendy Toliver! Since most of us YA authors relive the high school years on a daily basis in our writing, I thought it would be fun to dig into Wendy’s memory of her formative years.

Q: Hey, Wendy! Welcome to the Buzz Girls. To start, please tell us what kind of kid were you in HS?

A: Hmm, good question. I played basketball and soccer, sang in concert choir and school musicals, played piano, took Honors and AP classes (though art class was my favorite), and was active in my church's youth group. I had a best friend who I did everything with and was completely boy crazy. I drove a humongous and totally unglamorous Ford LTD we called the Banana Boat, and my wardrobe was pretty Gap-ish. My favorite lunch was Cheetos, a poppy seed muffin, and a raspberry New York Seltzer. I loved The Simpsons, Depeche Mode, and going to dance clubs and Nuggets basketball games.

Q: Whew—my stomach is hurting for Teenage Wendy! Tell us, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: A news anchor or a psychiatrist.

Q: As a YA author, have you used any incidents or memories from HS in your novels?

A: Not directly, but definitely as far as feelings and the daily in-and-outs of high school.

Q: Inquiring minds want to know -- did you have a secret HS crush?

A: Oh yes, many many, many crushes. And they changed almost daily, ha ha! I tended to like guys who were athletic, funny, handsome, and taller than me (I'm 5'9"). I went to a school with about 2,000 students and worked at a grocery store with a lot of other teenagers, so guys were plentiful in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't really have much reciprocation, so whenever I wanted to do something couple-ish, I resorted to having people fix me up with guys who went to different schools. I think the biggest secret crush I had was a guy named Shane who worked at the grocery store with me. He had a girlfriend, though, so I never told him.

Q: Did you have a nickname in HS?

A: Yes I did! Fergie (My last name was Ferguson before I got married) and Prancer amonst basketball team-mates (I don't know if this came from my tiny feet that looked like hooves in my basketball high-tops, or if it's because of the way I ran. Either way, kind of funny.)

Q: Who were your best friends in HS?

A: Amy Uppinghouse (in picture with Wendy at right) and Tonya Monson. I met them both in junior high and we're still close even though we went to different colleges and live in different states. Another of my best friends was Emily Bateman, who went to a different high school but we became friends way back in second grade!

Q: Do you have any regrets about your HS experience?

A: Of course I do! I don't think I was terrible to anyone, but I do remember being less than nice to a few people and I feel bad about that. Let's see, one of the major dances was a total bummer because I asked a guy-friend and he ended up being a total jerk, not even dancing with me, so I had to hang out with my friend and her boyfriend the whole night. I regret volunteering to play the piano for the school's big choir concert because the instructor yelled at me which only made my hands shake and I messed up even more. I was literally praying the entire song, just wanting to get through it. But overall, I LOVED my high school years and am so thankful to have gone to such a great one.

Q: Have you gone back to visit your HS now that you are a YA author?

A: I went there for my 10 year reunion but that was before I became an author. However, I did go back and do an author visit at my old junior high which was cool. Only a few of the teachers I had were still there and they look the same!

Q: What advice would you give kids in HS now?

A: I hate it when a teenager gets so wrapped up in her boy- or girlfriend that he/she ends up losing a part of him/herself. Think of the relationship as fun and exciting, but make sure you still make time for your friends and family.

Q: Any funny story you want to tell about HS that we haven’t already covered?

A: Once my friend Amy and I went to watch "Fiddler on the Roof" at another high school because some people we knew were in it. We brought a bag of Cheetos to munch on. Of course, food wasn't allowed in the theater but we thought we might get hungry. Then one of us dropped the bag, and it slid all the way down the sloped floor, bright orange chips scattering loudly en route to the base of the stage. I'd say we were mortified, but all I can remember is laughing and not being able to stop, yet another live-production no-no.

Thanks, Wendy! Be sure to check out Wendy’s awesome books -- The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren and Miss Match – on shelves now. And her super-cool sounding next book, Lifted will be a summer 2010 release from Simon Pulse – so keep your eyes peeled for that, too. You can read more about Wendy at

So Buzz Blog readers -- do you have any more questions about high school for Wendy? Post your question or comment on your own HS experience and you’ll be entered to win a $10 Borders gift certificate all week long!


The Clearing – April 2010 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Never Cry Werewolf –2009 - HarperTeen